Thursday, December 22, 2011

Irish Theatre in 2011: When the Heroes are Gone

It’s that time when bloggers write their end-of-year contemplations, trying to count down the ‘Best of’ moments of whatever had them gushing into their keyboards for the past twelve months. You might recall that I did a ‘Best of’ list last year. It then became increasingly obvious to me that comparing performances and declaring a winner is a problematic and possibly fruitless exercise. For example, how do you measure something like Laundry against Misterman and decide which is the “best”? Also, some of my favourite shows this year such as Mimic and The Year of Magical Wanking had technically received their debuts before 2011, so would they be “qualified” for such a list?

Instead, I decided to write an impression of the year that was, of what we can say happened and the significance of such. And where is a more appropriate place to begin than Enda?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Siren Productions, ‘The Making of ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore’: Director’s Commentary

Project Arts Centre, Dublin
Dec 1-17

My review of Selina Cartmell’s highly anticipated The Making of ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore coming up just as soon as I marry you despite your teeth …

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Live Collision | Bite Size, ‘Before Talkies’ & ‘Orchid’

Project Arts Centre, Dublin
Dec 1-3

A few thoughts on Live Collision | Bite Size coming up just as soon as I have my photograph taken …

Friday, December 2, 2011

Pan Pan, ‘The Rehearsal, Playing the Dane’: Revisited

Black Box Theatre, Galway
Nov 30-Dec 1

I had forgotten how jam-packed The Rehearsal, Playing the Dane is before I went to see it for the second time last night in Galway. Despite having already written about the show (twice), I have some further comments below, especially in relation to how this production differs from the debut run last year.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

TCD Department of Drama’s Debut 2011, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

Samuel Beckett Theatre, Dublin
Nov 30-Dec 2

I don’t often write about student and amateur productions here, mainly because it requires readjusting my criteria. Participants in such productions may not necessarily want to measure themselves against “professional” performers. We have to consider their reasons for performing, which may possibly be more social or community-based than on the economic necessity of a trained performer who has chosen a livelihood of the stage. This is not to say that there is a differential between either student/amateur and professional in terms of creativity and who is capable of being creative. In fact, creativity can sometimes be better nurtured in non-“professional” environments, which I argued in my review of NUIG Dramsoc’s The Hero Returns.

The production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream currently running in the Samuel Beckett Theatre is undoubtedly the most impressive student production I’ve seen. A component of the Trinity Drama department’s Debut series – in which graduating directors are given an opportunity to produce on a large scale, supported by sizeable budgets, casts and production crews along with academic guidance – Rosanna Mallinson’s Midsummer feels more like a lost Fringe play.

The fading in and out of a jazz-era piano and a vocal nod to Nina Simone by a Sixties-dressed Titania implement the musical genre as an ornament of the production’s design. Furthermore, ‘jazz’ is a very apt description of the approach of this piece to its source. Mallinson has taken the classical “scale” of Shakespeare’s comedy and used it to create an original, mischievous arrangement  of her own which overlooks hardly anything. With the script condensed to an hour, she manages to cater the essentials without glossing over any opportunity for comedic flourish. The cast are well-schooled in humour and charm, and all deserve and take their individual moments to own the spotlight. A radical design trades in fairy wings for military rifles, and a serene forest for a radioactive dystopia. Coincidentally, THEATREclub designer Doireann Coady is listed as production manager, and there is somewhat of a Twenty Ten similarity in how the screwball stage is uncluttered while possibly threatening. This is not to overlook the members of the design team who have all demonstrated a competency in interweaving these different aesthetics cohesively.

This production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is entertaining and ambitiously designed. It also introduces some names to keep in mind for the future. Well worth the admission charge of 8 euro (3 concession). Let me know what you think.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sheer Tantrum, ‘The Applicant’ & ‘Voices in The Rubble’: Keep Calm and Be Absurd

The Pearse Centre, Dublin
Nov 21-Dec 2

My review of The Applicant and Voices in The Rubble coming up just as soon as I make a poodle …

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Druid, ‘Big Maggie’: Of Land, Of Lady

The Gaiety, Dublin
Nov 21-26

My review of Big Maggie by John B. Keane coming up just as soon as I find Molly Gibbons’s grave ...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Nervousystem, ‘Weaving The Cry’: An Ocean and a Rock

Project Arts Centre, Dublin
Oct 27-29

My review of Weaving the Cry coming up just as soon as I recognise my stitch ...

Dragonfly Theatre in collaboration with Bluepatch Productions, ‘Chasing Butterflies’ & ‘In the Garden’: Afterlight

Nun’s Island Theatre, Galway Theatre Festival
Oct 29-30

My review of Siobhán Donnellan’s two one-act plays Chasing Butterflies and In the Garden coming up just as soon as I look like my grandmother ...

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fregoli, ‘A Life of Words’: All Together Now

Studio THT, Galway Theatre Festival
Oct 26-27

My review of A Life of Words coming up just as soon as I sit in the bar where Pablo Picasso met Salvador Dalí ...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Mephisto, ‘Almost a Fantasy’: My Moon My Man

Nun’s Island Theatre, Galway Theatre Festival
Oct 26-27

My review of Caroline Lynch’s Almost a Fantasy coming up just as soon as I think “there goes my venue” ...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

TYGER, ‘The Kimberly Tin’: All The Small Things

Nun’s Island Theatre, Galway Theatre Festival
Oct 25-26

My review of The Kimberly Tin coming up just as soon as I listen to Just Seventeen ...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Corcadorca, ‘The Winter’s Tale’: Godsend

Cork Opera House
Oct 11-22

I managed to catch Corcadorca’s production of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale but I don’t have time to do an in-depth review. I have to say though that this is not only the first production of a Shakespearean text by an Irish company that I enjoyed and would recommend (not including postdramatic phenom The Rehearsal, Playing the Dane) but it was also one of the most mesmerising and engaging pieces of theatre I’ve seen all year.

Director Pat Kiernan’s tribal-infused interpretation, keening with Mel Mercier’s score and steeled by Paul Keogan’s frosty lights, is both a chilling and hopeful experience. When Garrett Lombard’s jealous king Leontes clashes with Derbhle Crotty’s courtly Paulina we have a stage equivalent of when an unstoppable force meets an unmovable object. Both actors give supreme performances. The second half of the play is less memorable (Shakespeare did give this one a strange structure, starting off with road-signs towards a tragedy and then taking a comedy detour)  but is held together by an amiable cast including Ronan Leahy, Mal Whyte, and the always charming Raymond Keane. I have more thoughts on The Winter’s Tale but I think I’m going to save them for my end of year write-ups in December.

What did everybody else think? 

ANU Productions, ‘Laundry’: This Is Not Rome

The Magdalene Laundry, Sean MacDermott Street, Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival
Sept 27-Oct 15

My review (with spoilers) of Laundry (*), as well as a few thoughts on how it and The Blue Boy have dealt with the subject of the Catholic Church, coming up just as soon as I remember four names for you ...

(*) While I was stalking the Lab with the hope of getting a return ticket for ‘World’s End Lane’ (didn’t happen) I heard people from ANU tell audiences that they do hope to bring back ‘Laundry’ next year. I would strongly recommend not reading this review until you see the show, even if it’s a long wait. The show is well worth a look.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Kneehigh, 'The Wild Bride': Gotta Keep The Devil Way Down In The Hole!

The Gaiety Theatre, Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival
Oct 13-15

Unfortunately I’m again pressed for time and can’t write in detail on The Wild Bride. All I’ll say is that amongst the postmodern back-flips of the German companies and the social histories that our homegrown artists are illuminating, The Wild Bride sits triumphantly as the festival’s international visitor and king of folk theatre.  The virtuosic performances of Kneehigh give us a blues-infused fairytale that is funny, inventive, beautiful and disturbing. Highly recommended.

Other commitments are limiting my writing time (I’ll explain once I get the chance) but expect a thorough piece on Laundry by the end of the week and also something on She She Pop and Gob Squad.   

Meanwhile, conversation is dry at the Festival Water Cooler (!). Let me know what you’ve seen, what you thought, etc. Was Peer Gynt too chaotic for its own good? Did anyone find out where Camille O’Sullivan disappeared to at the end of The Lulu House? Were critics too easy on Testament? Is Marina Carr in trouble? What can we do with the truths Trade, The Blue Boy and Laundry have given us? Did you cry at She She Pop? Tell me all.

What did everybody else think of The Wild Bride?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Abbey Theatre, ’16 Possible Glimpses’: The Long Goodbye

The Peacock Stage, Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival
Sept 30-Oct 29

I don’t have time to write in depth about Marina Carr’s 16 Possible Glimpses. I was interested in seeing Carr craft a literary response to Chekov but the unfortunate result is a clumsy exposition-forced soap opera which isn’t particularly memorable.

Patrick O’Kane, Cathy Belton, and Caitríona Ní Mhurchú fall victim to the over-stated content of Carr’s prose here, resulting in cringing and irritating performances from some of the industry’s finest. As usual, director Wayne Jordan makes the most of a crowd, inspiring elegant choreography from his blocking and scene changes. His use of a live video feed though never finds its purpose. Hugh O’Connor’s footage and Sam Jackson’s music arrangements provide beautiful backdrops to this very confused piece.  When the play takes to a mediation on writing and ‘the artist’, and Chekov and Tolstoy exchange portfolios, we wonder if the subject of ‘eloquence’ has flown right over the head of one of our once most fearless voices.

What did everybody else think?   

THISISPOPBABY, ‘Trade’: Behind Closed Doors

Meeting point: O’Reilly Theatre, Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival
Sept 29-Oct 16

My review of Mark O’Halloran’s Trade coming up just as soon as I wish my dental hygienist was dead ...

Monday, October 10, 2011

Landmark Productions, ‘Testament’: The Gospel According to Whom?

Project Arts Centre, Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival
Oct 3-16

My review of Colm Tóibín’s Testament starring Marie Mullen and directed by Garry Hynes coming up just as soon as I see Artemis for the first time ...

HotForTheatre, ‘I ♥ Alice ♥ I’: I Kissed A Girl And I Liked It

Civic Theatre (Sept 30-Oct 1) / Project Arts Centre (Oct 4-9) / Draíocht Studio (Oct 10-12) / Pavillion Theatre (Oct 14-15), Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival

I unfortunately don’t have time to write in as much detail as I would like about I Alice I, Amy Conroy’s sweet documentary of two gay Dublin women named Alice in their Sixties and the lives they lived together and apart.

It had me smiling entirely throughout, except for when it had me welling with tears. Conroy and Clare Barrett give some of the most charming performances I have seen in a while, and the show’s political poignancy is so strong because of the loving and flawed human relationship the two have crafted. It’s time Alices everywhere were seen and heard.

What did everybody else think?

Brokentalkers, ‘The Blue Boy’: Our Last Days As Children

The Lir, Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival
Oct 8-16

My review of The Blue Boy coming up just as soon as I make sparks ...

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Siren Productions, 'The Lulu House': Art House Cinema

James Joyce House, Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival
Sept 30-Oct 16

My review of Selina Cartmel’s The Lulu House coming up just as soon as my hair defines me like the ornament on the hood of a car ...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Rough Magic, ‘Peer Gynt’: Daydreamer

O’Reilly Theatre, Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival 2011
Sept 30-Oct 16

My review of Rough Magic’s Peer Gynt by Henrik Ibsen coming up just as soon as I lose my wife to an outhouse door ...

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival 2011 Watercooler

I noticed that in my Fringe coverage I was missing somewhere where people could discuss any aspect of the festival as opposed to just what I was writing about.

So here’s our festival watercooler. Take a break from your theatre-going and discuss in the comments section below what shows you’re planning on seeing and your experiences at this year's festival. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Brokentalkers' Gary Keegan and Feidlim Cannon talk 'The Blue Boy'

Regular readers know how much a fan I am of Brokentalkers and how excited I am that The Blue Boy is right around the corner. I talked to Gary Keegan and Feidlim Cannon in The Lir last week and we discussed why these stories need to be told.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

WillFredd Theatre, 'FOLLOW': Breadcrumbs

The Lir, ABSOLUT Fringe 2011
Sept 13-17

My review of Follow coming up just as soon as I see another seahorse ...

Friday, September 23, 2011

THISISPOPBABY, 'The Year of Magical Wanking': Wake Up Your Saints

Project Arts Centre, ABSOLUT Fringe 2011
Sept 10-17

I hope you took my advice to go see Neil Watkins’ The Year of Magical Wanking. My review coming up just as soon as my bear falls unconscious on the couch ...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

THEATREclub, 'Twenty Ten': Youth Novels

Project Arts Centre, ABSOLUT Fringe 2011
Sept 10-15 (Omnibus on 17)

‘Spirit of the Fringe’-commissioned THEATREclub played the Fringe this year with Twenty Ten. Directors Grace Dyas and Doireann Coady told me the show was big. And that it was. My review coming up just as soon as I think Jim Dale should narrate all the audio books ...

donjuandemonaghan, ‘Luca & the Sunshine’: Why Does It Always Rain On Me?

Smock Alley Theatre, ABSOLUT Fringe 2011
Sept 14-18

I interviewed Nick Lee about his play Luca & the Sunshine and my gushing over the dream-team of him, Matt Torney and John Cronin. A few thoughts on the production coming up just as soon as I break this interrogatory proposal and put it back together piece by piece ...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Fringe Talk: Nick Lee

Nick Lee, author of 'Luca and the Sunshine'
If you’re a geek like me, sometimes you can see a show in the listings that can excite you not only by the concept of the play but also by those involved in the production of it.Pineapple earlier this year is a good example, a show which starred amongst a terrific cast the charming Nick Lee. Delightfully surprised I was to hear that Lee had written a play in ABSOLUT Fringe – Luca and the Sunshine – and further thrilled was I to hear that Matt Torney (Plaza SuiteThe Walworth Farce) was directing and John Cronin (The End of the RoadThe Sit) was performing. Lee talked to me about the play and the story of friendship, weather, and skype that brought it together.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

THISISPOPBABY, ‘The Year of Magical Wanking’

Project Arts Centre, ABSOLUT Fringe 2011
Sept 10-17

I’ve been telling people about how moved I was by Neil Watkins’ excellent show, which is a funny and dark allegory of destructive homosexual behaviour in Catholic Ireland. I’m finding a lot of the time though that people stop listening as soon as I mention the title, which is incredibly apt but proving to be a hard-sell.  

I’ve decided that I’m going to wait to see it again before finishing my post on it (which well may be the closing show on Saturday). In the meantime, I strongly recommend that you don’t miss it.

Armoured with poetic verse, Watkins brings the internalised homophobia of man, nation, and spirituality to its knees. And the price is devastating.

What does everybody else think of The Year of Magical Wanking?

Rough Magic SEEDS Showcase, ‘Jumping Off The Earth’: Sailors Fighting In The Dance Hall

Project Arts Centre, ABSOLUT Fringe 2011
Sept 10-17

I reviewed Jumping Off The Earth for Irish Theatre Magazine, which you can read here.

The show’s good fun and I’ll watch José Miguel Jiménez and Brian Bennett’s work for a long time, but I doubt this will gain the indie stardom that their As You Are Now So Once Were We did. JOTE lacks the charm, technique and companionship that made As You Are so watchable, and when it tried to force its sentimental side we could care less. Really interested in seeing all these performers in more projects though, and the idea of a Jiménez and Aedín Cosgrove collaboration will always excite me.

Really interesting in hearing what everybody else thought.

Melanie Wilson, ‘Autobiographer’: Remembrance

Smock Alley Theatre, ABSOLUT Fringe 2011
Sept 9-11

My thoughts on Autobiographer coming up just as soon as I sit next to you on the piano stool ...

Friday, September 9, 2011

Fringe Talk: Maeve Stone

Maeve Stone
It’s a shame that Maeve Stone didn’t name her theatre company “Spilt Vodka”. Fringe sponsors ABSOLUT could have had a field day with the advertising potential. I’m more of a gin man myself, and Stone and James Hickson’s Spilt Gin are canvassing the theatre scene in spectacular fashion with the assistance of their friends alone. I caught up with her to talk about their house party site-specific You Can’t Just Leave – There’s Always Something.

Fringe Talk: Grace Dyas and Doireann Coady

Shane Byrne, Doireann Coady and Grace Dyas of THEATREclub
I recently spoke to THEATREclub’s Grace Dyas (and eventually Doireann Coady) about their epic-sounding Twenty Ten. Read on to see what they had to say about the company’s Twenty Ten, Twenty Eleven (as well as a bit of Twenty Twelve), and why this will be the last time we’ll see their hands.

Fringe Talk: Meadhbh Haicéid

Meadhbh Haicéid of Waterdonkey

Among the boldest site-specific ideas at this year’s ABSOLUT Fringe is Waterdonkey’sHappening – a 12 hour ‘bed-in’ in a suite in the Gresham Hotel on Sunday Sept 18. Meadhbh Haicéid, the show’s director, was kind enough to shed some light on the event, the company’s recent fascination with John Lennon, and the escalating lightsaber violence in rehearsal.

Also: you may spot a wannabe impartial journalist sporting Lennon shades below. I’ve worked with Waterdonkey before and have on occasion lent my mug to their press images.

Fringe Talk: Oonagh Murphy and Shaun Dunne

Talking Shop Group - S Dunne, O Murphy, L Walsh, A Byrne
Shaun Dunne and Talking Shop Ensemble are teaming up once again, this time to consider the revelations and disillusionments of contemporary Ireland. Dunne himself has been going to psychic mediums for answers, which we will learn all about at their ABSOLUT Fringe show Do You Read Me?. I talked to Dunne and TSE’s Oonagh Murphy about their friendship, their work, and my obvious despondency from pop cultural references.

Fringe Talk: Richard Walsh, Zita Monahan and Martin Sharry

Richard Walsh, Zita Monahan and Martin Sharry of Side-Show Productions
In the first of two ABSOLUT Fringe interviews published today, Richard Walsh, Zita Monahan and Martin Sharry of Side-Show Productions discuss their melodramatic soap opera Dreams of Love, their favourite love stories, and whether or not “true love” exists.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Fringe Talk: Sinéad O'Loughlin

Next in a series of interviews: Sinéad O’Loughlin talks about setting up Rampant with her best friend Katie Holmes (not Mrs. Cruise), the assault on feminism that led to their ABSOLUT Fringe debut Amy, I want to make you hard, and stealing Brokentalkers' production crew. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Fringe Talk: Nyree Yergainharsian

The countdown to ABSOLUT Fringe 2011 is on, and in anticipation of its arrival you can find a new interview with a featured artist posted here each day.

Today it is Nyree Yergainharsian, member of 21st century theatre pioneers The Company and one of the country’s most charming performers, now running solo in search of her place in the world in Where Do I Start? (I reviewed an earlier incarnation of it –beware of spoilers! – here). I caught Nyree on the lunch hour of her nine-to-nine day where she was eating the most impressive sandwich I had ever seen.  

Friday, September 2, 2011

Yaysterday, Tomorrow, Today

In my write-up on Theatre Forum’s conference in June I mentioned briefly that I talked with social media guru Darragh Doyle, who being the hilarious gent that he is was kind enough to answer what blog-related queries I had. In the last few weeks I have been talking to Darragh again, and he has since asked me to write about theatre for his arts and culture site

Established by Doyle, Stephanie Francis and Niamh Smith six months ago, has become a comprehensive guide to contemporary Irish theatre, music, film, and visual arts events, as well as a variety of other things (if you haven’t already, check out Doyle’s interview with Neil Watkins here). Being part of that coverage is incredibly exciting for me.

This won’t change anything on Musings in Intermissions, which continues to grow and engage beyond what I expected. In fact, what I write for both sites will be practically identical, if not entirely in many cases (just in case you think a mimic is out there impersonating me). Though I will reserve most of my venting rights for Musings.

I set up this blog to stimulate discussion on Irish theatre, and now I have not one but two platforms for me to do so. Go check out ! I’ll see you over there (once I figure out all their technical doohickies).